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Belt and Road still open to US: experts

2017-05-05

Source: Global Times    Published: 2017-5-4

 

China is still open to the involvement of the US in any form in its One Belt and One Road initiative, experts said, cautioning that the US would be better off if the current administration changed tack on the grand initiative.


Beijing will hold the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14-15, and US President Donald Trump should not follow the Obama administration`s course of keeping its distance from the initiative, they said.


"During Barack Obama`s era, the US` ideological bias meant it didn`t look at the China-initiated Belt and Road initiative, and it missed the chance to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)," Ruan Zongze, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.


The US did not try to prevent its close allies from involvement in the Belt and Road, but neither did it show interest in supporting it, he said.


Obama treated the Belt and Road as a countermeasure to his "Pivot to Asia" or "Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy," so he refused to support it, said Hua Liming, a Middle East studies expert and former Chinese ambassador to Iran.


Many US elites in diplomatic and academic circles have criticized the Obama administration`s decision-making, so we hope President Donald Trump, as a more pragmatic leader, can participate in the initiative for the benefit of both the US and China, Ruan said.


Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said previously that the US "screwed up" its approach by not seeking AIIB membership. "I think we miscalculated, in terms of that other countries also want to be part of the Chinese initiative," she said. "All of a sudden everybody was in," the Xinhua News Agency quoted her as saying.


The US is suspicious about the Belt and Road, because it has concerns about China`s transparency and intentions, Ruan said. "So why not just come and see for yourself? If the US has questions then the best way is to come and seek answers by participating in the initiative. China will welcome its participation."


Real benefits


In contrast to the US government, US companies, money, personnel and technology have already participated in the Belt and Road directly or indirectly, so the benefit is real, otherwise they would not participate, said Wang Yiwei, senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China.


Frontier Services Group (FSG), a company that helps businesses operating in frontier markets overcome complex security, logistics and operational challenges, is planning to build two bases of operation in Northwest China`s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Southwest China`s Yunnan Province, Erik Prince, the executive chairman of the firm, told the Global Times in mid-March.


Prince is the founder of Blackwater, now known as Academi, which provides executive security services and specialized training. Regarding his new operations in China, Prince told the Global Times that "in late 2016, FSG expanded its geographic focus from Africa to include the Northwest and Southwest corridors of the One Belt and One Road initiative."


Many US companies have fruitful customer resources, experience and advanced ideas in the developing world, and the projects of the Belt and Road are open to global contractors, so US companies will certainly have opportunities, Wang said.


Shared experience


China has advantages like infrastructure development and money, and China also has technological advantages like high-speed rail and nuclear electronics, but the US has more technological advantages in areas like energy, environmental protection, high-tech manufacturing; on cross-national research in the developing world, the US also has advantages due to its long-standing global presence, Ruan said.


"Therefore, there would be highly complementary win-win cooperation between China and the US if they can work together under the framework of the Belt and Road," Ruan added.


US financial service institutions, risk assessment organizations and credit rating agencies are also welcome and needed in China and in Belt and Road projects, Wang said, and the US` experience should be shared and popularized.


We are pushing the Belt and Road, and it might provide a huge opportunity to develop economies in the Middle East and provide education and employment, Hua said.


"Once the economies are improved, the pressure on the US in the region would be reduced. So the US should seriously consider cooperating with China to push the initiative together."

 

Hua Liming and Wang Yiwei are all senior fellows of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: Belt and Road   China   US  

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